“Do your best, one shot at a time and then move on.” Nancy Lopez, LPGA Champion
You usually learn more from getting buried in the bunker than hitting a hole in one. We’ll borrow some wisdom from another sport’s icon: legendary coach Pat Summitt, who won more games than any man or woman in college basketball history, said, “The reason so many people underachieve is simply that they are afraid to make a mistake, or to fail, or to be wrong. They’re afraid to find out what’s inside of them.”
Youth on Course is dedicated to helping youth make mistakes.
Fail. Be wrong. Overcome challenges. Learn. Progress. Triumph. Have fun. And, of course, find out what’s inside of them. This remarkable organization provides youth ages 6 – 18 with access to life-changing opportunities through golf.
Access to Life-Changing Opportunities
Kids who participate in sports are far less likely to be obese, smoke, use drugs, engage in risky sex, and experience depression. They’re more likely to achieve higher scores in school, go to college, earn more, be more productive in whatever field they choose, and enjoy better health. Unfortunately, despite these benefits, participation in youth sports is decreasing. Why? Two big reasons: It’s too expensive, and it’s not fun.
This is where Youth on Course steps in. Members can play golf at over 1200 participating courses for $5 or less. A few hours of fun, learning, physical activity, and confidence-boosting for about the same cost as a grande latte. Parents and their children are able to overcome the very real cost barrier to youth sports.
But what about fun? Kids would rather play than drink a grande latte. That’s science. In a casual, “Hey, we all make mistakes, just look at Adam Grubb. Keep playing and see what happens” type of environment, they can learn the basics of the sport, hone their skills, and, most importantly, build their confidence as athletes on the course and as people in the world.
Building a Legacy of Accessibility and Affordability
Youth on Course began life in 2006 as a brainchild of the Northern California Golf Association, which wanted to increase accessibility and affordability for the sport. It worked. By 2011, the program was thriving, and NCGA expanded opportunities for its members. In addition to affordable access to courses, they offered a caddie program, high school internships, and college scholarships.*
The demand was there. The desire was there. And NCGA responded. The program grew into a nationwide initiative and was christened Youth on Course. Today, Youth on Course stretches over 34 regions around the country and has subsidized more than 900,000 rounds of golf, hired more than 550 caddies and 175 interns, and awarded more than $250,000 in scholarships annually.
*Currently, all Youth on Course members can apply for college scholarships, while members in Northern California have access to the caddie program and paid high school internships. They are planning to expand these programs to more regions soon.
Respect for the Game
And lest we think that the lessons end on the course: Youth on Course member Owen Randolf says, “You never know if the pro shop will look at you differently since you’re a junior only paying $5 – but they still treat you with respect. You bring that into the real world and show people respect and treat people as well as you would in golf.”
Member Savannah Gentry agrees. “ My favorite thing about golf is the overall respect for the game and others, and integrity. Doing the right thing.”
These kids are developing the skills to succeed on and off the course – and the courage to find out what’s inside of them. Youth on Course is not just about golf; it’s about life-changing opportunities.
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